Harford Community College Foundation recently announced a $1.5 million gift from the Phillip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation to establish Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation.
As part of the Harford Community College at Edgewood initiative, Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation will address the high demand for workforce development and workers in the Route 40 Corridor by providing advanced technological proficiencies in the skilled construction trades, manufacturing, warehousing/distribution, and logistics. It will be located in space provided by the Edgewood Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford and Cecil Counties and will open in July 2021.
In addition to providing funding to establish Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation, the Ratcliffe Foundation will also provide scholarships, stipends and tool allowances for students studying at the Edgewood location. The Ratcliffe Foundation was created in 2003 by Phillip and Carol Ratcliffe to provide access to education and training for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their ventures, create jobs and expand economic opportunities in local communities.
“I want to thank the Ratcliffe Foundation for this generous gift,” said Dr. Theresa B. Felder, president of Harford Community College. “It will absolutely strengthen our local economy and equip our students with the resources and support they need to establish successful careers.”
Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation will house a fabrication lab for additive manufacturing, simulation and lab space for trade skills, collaboration room for innovation, and training space for workforce development. It will promote civic engagement through maker space, entrepreneurship and business acceleration programming.
We are so pleased to partner with Harford Community College on this innovative program that will make a difference in the lives of many who live in southeastern Harford County,” said Carlene Cassidy, CEO of the Ratcliffe Foundation. “In addition, this new program creates a pipeline of highly qualified workers to advance business growth. Making education and training accessible to the underserved and offering entrepreneurship opportunities are goals our founders wholeheartedly supported.”
Among the programs offered at Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation will be stackable workforce credentials in heavy equipment operator, welding, machining, forklift certifications, logistics, and additive and subtractive manufacturing. It will also offer HVAC and electrical pre-apprenticeship programs in addition to entrepreneurship programs for skilled trades and apprenticeship students and community members seeking financial sustainability through business ownership.
Classes will be offered starting in the summer, and approximately 150 students (increasing by 20% each year) are expected to be part of the program. Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation will be staffed by an executive director, college and career navigators, SBDC counselor, part-time laboratory technicians and administrative support professionals.
“The Ratcliffe Foundation gift is a game changer. It allows Harford Community College to offer training using state-of-the-art equipment at a location convenient to students. The scholarships provided by the Ratcliffe Foundation will make industry-based education free to the recipients,” said Kelly Koermer, dean for Community Education, Business and Applied Technology at Harford Community College. “The Ratcliffe Foundation is helping the college create new opportunities for the Route 40 Corridor that will provide workforce resources that will help local businesses grow.”
The Harford Community College at Edgewood initiative started two years ago, with a goal of providing greater access to training and education that lead to well-paying, stable careers in the Route 40 Corridor. Several barriers — transportation, child care and technology — were identified as reasons why many southeastern Harford County residents are unable to access programs and opportunities on Harford Community College’s main campus in Bel Air.
A feasibility study, conducted by MGT Consulting and issued in 2019, concluded that skilled trades, manufacturing, and warehousing/distribution and logistics were key industry sectors for expanded academic offerings in the Route 40 Corridor. In addition, the college is working with several community organizations, including government, nonprofit, academic and private sector partners, to relieve unemployment and underemployment while creating opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship and career exploration.
The first phase of the Harford Community College at Edgewood initiative got under way last fall by offering programming in career foundations, introduction to trades, and cyber courses at the Edgewood Branch of the Harford County Public Library. The establishment of Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation is the next phase of the Harford Community College at Edgewood initiative.